(See the end of this blog for a copy-editing checklist)
Why You Need to Copy-edit Your Work
So you’re just finished up that blog that you’ve been working on for hours or days. You’re anxious to just get it published, and besides, do you really have time to go through and make painstaking corrections to your work? Stop right there. You must go back and edit your work. Copyediting is more than just scanning your work for grammatical and spelling errors, it is a crucial step in the copywriting process. This step helps to ensure that your blog, social media post, or other written content is polished, free of errors, and consistent with your company’s brand voice.
Below is a list of steps to help you get through the copyediting process without wanting to tear your hair out.
1. Re-read your post. Is the writing clear, concise, and on message?
One of the most important things when it comes to writing and editing is clarity. Will the reader be able to understand the points you are trying to make? If your post is confusing or difficult to read, then it’s time to revise it.
2. Check for grammatical, spelling, and formatting errors. Revise as needed.
Most word processing software already has a built-in spelling and grammar check. Which will help you avoid posting a piece that is riddled with errors. However, these services may not be able to detect certain grammatical errors. For instance, if you write a sentence using the word “they’re” when you actually meant “their” it can change the entire meaning of the sentence, and your message may be lost.
Grammarly is an online writing assistant that I use every single day. The free version features a really good grammar, spelling, and style check. It also features a tone of voice reader that can help you strike the right tone for your writing (more on that later).
3. Consider your audience. Are there too many industry or technical terms?
When I’m editing materials for my clients, I often come across confusing industry jargon or technical terms that can send your reader packing in a hurry. Jargon is a type of shorthand between members of a particular group of people, often involving words that are meaningless outside of a certain context. While you may understand all of the acronyms or buzzwords in your field, your audience may not.
Using industry jargon can be especially problematic for folks in scientific, medical, or technical fields. Those fields have a specialized knowledge base that the reader may not have context for. This is not to say that you need to make your writing sound like a second-grade book report. You want to strike a balance between being clear, while also not insulting the intelligence of your audience
4. How does the tone of voice sound? Is it informational, friendly, conversational, or humorous?
This one is pretty tricky. Striking the right tone of voice depends on several factors.
Who your audience is.
What do you want to accomplish with your post?
Your brand voice
If you are trying to explain why HVAC maintenance is important, or how a new loan program works, then your tone should be informational. If you are describing a holiday event or you want to get your audience excited about an upcoming product launch, you may want a friendly or witty tone.
5. Does it feature a call to action (CTA) for the reader?
This is a big part of copywriting. The call to action (CTA) lets your reader know what you want them to do. Do you want to direct them to a recent blog? Do you want to drive more traffic to your website? What about a sale at your brick-and-mortar store? If you don’t know what the point of your post is, then neither will your audience.
6. Is it consistent with my company’s brand voice?
Brand voice refers to the personality and emotion infused into a company’s communications. It encompasses everything from the words and language you use, to the personality and images your marketing assets aim to invoke.
Three things that your brand voice should include:
What your company stands for
What you represent to your customers
Why you are providing this service or product
Having a consistent message across all of your marketing channels helps you to build your brand and your trustworthiness in the eyes of your audience. If you’re messaging seems chaotic or lacks a distinguishable goal, your audience will notice.
7. Bonus: How is your title?
Any writer will tell you that the title is one of the most important features of your writing. The title is what gets your audience interested in what you have to say. It gets people to click on that link. But writing a great title can be tricky. So what are some things you can do to help you craft a great title?
Hubspot has a great guide on how to create a title your readers can’t resist.
- Start with a working title. It should give your audience an idea of what they are about to read and why they should read it.
- Focus on the “whos,” not the “whys.” Want to intrigue your audience? Focus on the “who” in your title. Headlines including the word “who” generated a 22% higher Click-thru rate (CTR) than headlines without it.
- Make the value clear. Why should people click on your headline? What’s in it for them?
Should You Invest in Hiring a Professional Copyeditor?
As you can see, copyediting means focusing on both the small details and the big picture of your written work. A copyeditor’s job is not just to check grammar and spelling. They must make sure that every element of your story is consistent, cohesive, and complete. If all of these steps have your head spinning, then it’s time to think about hiring a professional copyeditor.
Contact us for a Copyediting Quote today.